Thursday, December 16, 2010

Should Your Try And Match A Double Commonwealth Gold Medallist?

On our recent Coach Education Course in Loughborough, UK, we met up with Ross Davenport, double Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist, to have a good look at his stroke and understand what makes him so quick in the water. Ross has a classic elite swimmer's build, he's very tall and broad with long arms:

As you might expect, when racing Ross has a long stroke taking about 36 strokes per length in a 50m pool or 16 strokes per length in a 25m pool. To investigate his stroke make-up, we asked Ross to kick 100m for us with a kick board:

His time? 1 minute 16 seconds - a very powerful and propulsive leg kick indeed! In his freestyle Ross uses this kick to push him along and lengthen out each stroke to create a long style that is very efficient for him. This is like yourself donning a long pair of fins and finding you can easily swim with a longer stroke taking many fewer strokes per length.

Ross races 200m in around 1 minute 48 seconds and takes 36 strokes per 50m. Given his skill level and physical attributes he could easily swim this distance taking fewer strokes if he wanted but he would be less efficient and slower because that would mean overly-lengthening his stroke.

If you don't have Ross' skill level, flexibility, height and arm span - and you can't kick 100m in 1:16 - then trying to match his stroke length might have been a mistake. Instead of chasing a low stroke count, work on the basics of good body position, good alignment, decent propulsion and strong rhythm and timing in your stroke technique. Get those things right and you will be moving much more quickly and easily through the water - and your strokes length will take care of itself. Don't let the tail wag the dog!

Swim Smooth!

A special thanks to Blue Seventy and to Ross for joining us in November.

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